Navigating the Merger – And Breakup – Of Two Health System Giants


As the strategic communications partner for a major regional health system, Lovell Communications was called upon to help shape communications strategy around the organization’s planned merger with another large system. While the organizations shared a nonprofit mission and complementary geographies, much was at stake. Communications would play a pivotal role in articulating the organizations’ shared vision while ensuring each entity protected its own hard-earned reputation in the event the deal failed to move forward.

Strategy and Tactics

Serving as an extension of the health system’s internal marketing and communications team, Lovell worked closely with representatives from both organizations to understand key deal points and develop a message platform that clearly articulated not only the value the combined entity would bring, but also its client’s reasons for entering into a partnership. Special attention was devoted to creating messaging that put the decision to pursue a merger in the context of the health system’s broader strategic growth efforts and other challenges specific to many of its markets.

In addition to supporting the system’s internal team in its efforts to identify and engage in targeted outreach to priority stakeholders, the Lovell team developed a comprehensive set of materials including the announcement release, an extensive Q &A, presentations for leadership teams, policymaker briefings and other materials. In the days and weeks leading up to the merger announcement, Lovell worked closely with the health system to navigate hurdles related to deal timing and messaging, as well as cultural differences in communication philosophy, to ensure a smooth and thoughtful rollout.


The merger announcement garnered widespread coverage in local, national and trade media. More importantly, reaction from internal constituents and priority stakeholders including legislators, key physician groups and community leaders was positive with leaders indicating they were able to leverage the messaging and tools we created to address concerns.

Several months into the due diligence process, the organizations decided not to move forward with the merger. Lovell continued working closely with our client’s internal team members to protect the health system’s brand while shoring up important internal and external relationships. As a result of these efforts, the health system was able to navigate a challenging time with its reputation in-tact while preserving loyalty among internal audiences and other key stakeholders.

Ultimately, our efforts with Karmanos brought their brand to an audience of more than 112 million in our first year.